A 30-year-old city man pleaded guilty Monday in Schenectady County Court to smashing his baby daughter’s head against a wall in frustration with her constant crying. The child continues to receive rehabilitative care due to a severe brain injury.
Under a plea bargain, Lamar Smith, of 1003 Delamont Ave., will be sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 22 by Acting Schenectady County Judge Richard Sise. Smith pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, a B-violent felony, in full satisfaction of the charges against him, said Assistant District Attorney Andra Ackerman, special victims bureau chief.
Smith was scheduled for trial Monday but took the plea agreement instead, officials said.
As part of the agreement, Smith told the court he grabbed and shook the child, Lavay Sha Smith, who was 23 months old at the time, inside his home on Oct. 4, 2007, because she was constantly crying and screaming.
He said he shook her extremely hard numerous times and then carried her to her room. While there, he shook her again, this time striking her head against a wall.
The child’s mother, Lorral Smith, of the same address, brought the child to St. Clare’s Hospital Oct. 5 at 8:56 p.m., the police report stated. Smith has not been charged. She was absent from the home during the incident, authorities said. However, Schenectady County Child Protective Services removed the couple’s two other children and placed them with grandparents.
St. Clare’s emergency room staff suspected child abuse and contacted the state Child Abuse Hotline. The Schenectady County Department of Social Services was notified, and staff went to the emergency room, the police report said.
St. Clare’s staff had the child flown to Albany Medical Center, where she underwent emergency surgery to relieve the swelling of her brain. The police report said Albany Medical Center staff noticed old and new injuries to the child and diagnosed bleeding on the brain and brain swelling.
Ackerman credited the work of the Schenectady County Multi-Disciplinary Team for helping build a strong case of child abuse against Smith. “The inter-agency cooperation in this case … ensured that our office could hold Smith accountable for the abuse he perpetrated against his own daughter,” she said.
Ackerman said the child has significant weakness to her body and is still suffering from physical and cognitive limitations. Doctors will have clearer understanding of these limitations in about seven months, she said.
District Attorney Robert Carney said he hopes Smith’s conviction and sentence “will make people think twice about how they treat babies.” He said Smith’s is the second case to come to trial this spring where a baby was severely injured by shaking. The first case involves Rebecca Polomaine, who was convicted in April of first-degree assault for smashing the skull of the 2-year-old she babysat a year ago. She will be sentenced on July 1 and could face between five years and 25 years in prison.
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